Guest Post: Mythological Leda Strike – Cormoran, Zeus, Castor and Pollux

Leda 4A Team ‘Guest Post’ by Joanne Gray and John Granger: Mythological Leda

I think that J. K. Rowling chose the name for Strike’s mother with a specific story line in mind. A quick Google search of the name ‘Leda’ means a host of links to the Greek myth about Leda and the Swan.

Leda was a beautiful Queen of Sparta, the ancient Greek city-state totally dedicated to military supremacy. She caught the eye of the King of the Gods, Zeus. [She was not the god’s first or last mortal mate; at any given time Zeus was seducing some poor earthling. Leda seems to be the only woman, however, with whom he used his swan guise to carry out the seduction.]  

Leda 5With both her mortal husband, the King of Sparta Tyndareus, and Zeus, the immortal King of the Gods, as her lovers, Leda gave birth to two sets of twins, one set of sons and one set of daughters. (For a refresher on why the ancients thought this sort of thing was possible read the history of telegony, an obscure rabbit hole on the trail of genetics.) Leda’s two daughters, Helen of Troy via Zeus and Clytemnestra by Tyndareus, were both tragic figures in the Trojan War.

However, her sons will be the ones that concern us here. The twin boys were named Castor and Pollux. Castor was known as a horse breaker and demigod Pollux was known as a boxer. Both were also known for their horsemanship and for their willingness to help those in trouble, especially travelers, guests, and sailors. For much more on these two, see Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia and the discussion therein on A Horse and His BoyCor and Corin in that C. S. Lewis tale are Archenland royalty separated as infants who are Castor and Pollux story ciphers.

Yes, I think Rowling is writing a Castor and Pollux story inside the Cormoran Strike mysteries. Read on after the jump.

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Guest Post: ‘Lethal White’ Deadly Heroin

A Hogwarts Professor Guest Post by Joanne Gray

Lethal White and the Death of Leda Strike: Heroin Hydrochloride

With the announcement that the long delayed and eagerly awaited fourth book of the Cormoran Strike book series would be called “Lethal White”, those who heard the news immediately began to Google the two word title and devour the information on something called, “Lethal White Syndrome.” [See the HogwartsProfessor discussion here.]

As people absorbed the definition of “Lethal White Syndrome” and discovered it was a fatal genetic condition of…American paint horses their initial excitement about a ‘great catch’ about what the next mystery would be about faded a little, even with Rowling’s theme of eugenics. Though this ‘Lethal White’ referred to a fatal condition, it was for a different species than human beings and death-by-genetics not foul play. If this was the heart of Strike’s next murder mystery, how would one go about arresting Mother Nature?

Sometimes finding a good firm wall blocking the easy path you’ve taken, in order to research something, is actually a good thing. In my case it caused me to step back and take a broader view of things. Could ‘Lethal White’ be a reference to a major background element in Career of Evil, the mysterious death of Leda Strike?
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Cormoran Strike #4 Title is ‘Lethal White’

the-silkworm-cuckoos-calling2Yesterday J. K. Rowling had a contest on Twitter, the winner of which would win an autographed copy of her next Cormoran Strike mystery. The challenge was to figure out the title of this book from the clue “- – – H – – – H – – -.”

I found the clue all but impossible to grasp. Was it one word or two or three? Was it a picture of, say, a suspension bridge?

CareerOfEvil-UK-US-800x611Fortunately, there are legions of cryptographers in the twittersphere and we had an answer, the right answer, in a little over an hour, from a Rowling reader in Singapore. The title is ‘Lethal White.’ Prof Freeman informed me that, no, this was not a pointer to whose lives matter and the danger of armed Caucasian policemen (hurrah!), but the name of a fatal genetic abnormality among horses. I kid you not.

Three notes off the cuff about this title after the jump! [Read more…]

Fantastic Reading Suggestions for the Harry Reader on Your Shopping List, or Yourself!

Image result for harry potter libraryWhether you are shopping for a family member or friend, or perhaps looking for something to read over a school break or a long flight, thoughtful Harry readers are often seeking a text that will be, on some level, as fulfilling, thought-provoking, or entertaining as the Hogwarts adventures we love. Of course, no book can really be “just like” Harry Potter’s adventures, and we would not want it to be, but, depending on the reader, there are some authors whose work you might want consider as you make your list, and check it twice, even if the person who’s been naughty or nice is yourself! But if you are shopping for your own family’s versions of Newt, Fred and George, or Mr. Weasley, we have the goods after the break… [Read more…]

Who Sent the 50 Red Roses to Cormoran Strike’s Office in ‘Career of Evil’?

coeSo, where were we? Denmark Street, London, just off Charing Cross Road. Right. Have you got the picture in your head? Good. Here’s a question from a serious reader about an event in Career of Evil you probably didn’t think too much about, one that takes place on Denmark Street as Robin and Cormoran enter #26 (Career, p. 253).

Hi john!! Just finished COE. Wondering if you know why jo never confirmed who the roses were from or what the card said. I was so curious if they were def from Matthew & what he wrote! Or if they were from Laing. But we never got the info. I know Jo doesn’t drop bald so it was purposeful & I guess it didn’t matter as much as it mattered to me? What do you think?

I answered promptly that I didn’t think this was the big deal Sondra thought it was — what the Ents call “hasty.”

Dear Sondra,

A delight to hear from you.

I’m listening to the Robert Glenister audio CDs of Career of Evil now and just heard the pivotal chapters in which the red roses appear. Because of your email I was paying particular attention to the neglected note that came with the roses. And of course you’re right — the roses are neglected and thrown away without the note being read.

As I’ve written already, the roses that appear in the critical central chapters are pointers to both the white roses of the wedding at story’s end and the ‘flowers in season’ critical clue for Cormoran’s breaking Ray William’s alibi. I’d note, too, that they arrive by courier and are unwelcome markers of misogyny to Robin, they are echoes of the leg she received in chapter 2. 

It may be a stretch, but it could be that Rowling is linking Matt and Laing as two men who both understand women as selfish creatures that are easily manipulated to his preferred usage (‘abusage’). Because I cannot think of anyone else who could have sent them, Robin’s explanation about Matt’s dad seems satisfactory to me.

Let me know if you think of a credible rose sender other than Matt!



Here’s the thing. After a little reflection (and conversation with my fellow HogwartsProfessors), I’m not really satisfied with the answer that I gave to this question from Sondra. There is a character we all know — and dread? — who would have sent red roses and an amorous note to Cormoran’s and Robin’s business address. Let’s walk through the Line Up of suspects to pick out the probable perp.

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